Ted Bauer, a blogger, writer, and editor who lives in the DFW Metroplex, wrote a piece in May for the Whiterock Locator entitled “Imagine You Were Born in 1900.”
As you read it, think about the word “perspective.”
“It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria.” Ted correctly observes.
“For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.”
On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.
Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.
At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you were 55, you dealt with the fear of polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed and/or dying.
At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above – you are called to stay home and sit on your couch.
Perspective allows us to see facts, ideas, and circumstances in the proper context. It’s the ability to take information and make a meaningful correlation as we view a situation, make a decision, or try to solve a problem.
Perspective looks beyond our own narrow world. Our preconceived ideas. And our personal prejudices. Perspective sees the big picture. It involves perception. Vision. And discernment.
In Philippians 3:9 Paul penned, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.”
Love is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:37-40). Without it, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Knowledge is absolutely vital to understanding our spiritual responsibilities. But both love and knowledge must be applied with discernment. That means insight. Discretion. And perception.
While we’ve all faced unprecedented situations (at least in our lifetime) in the past 15 months, not every person’s experience is exactly the same. Perspective allows us to see beyond our personal circumstances, political partisanship, and our own proclivities and predisposition.
Some folks have struggled, while others have prospered. Some families have experienced severe sickness and even death, while others have remained healthy and free from illness. Some churches have been sorely divided and hurt spiritually, while others have remained united and even grown spiritually and numerically.
Bauer’s piece, of course, puts whatever we’ve faced in the perspective of a greater historical context that we would all be well advised to seriously consider.
The applications of an appropriate perspective in the way we view other people are manifold. They apply to race. Religion. Ethnicity. Education. And social-economic conditions. In fact, our own personal growth and improvement depend on our ability to change our perceptions.
Our perspective will be improved and enhanced when it’s founded on faith in God. Practiced with trust in His promises. Lived in hope. And always exercised in love.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman